We and our audience enjoyed a wonderful afternoon’s singing (and dancing!) on the 21st January, to celebrate the Trust’s first anniversary of achieving registered charity status, and to thank all our members and supporters. Skylarks/Sing to Beat Parkinson’s member John Rose took time to pen this account of the afternoon. Thank you, John.
Five of the singing groups that collectively form Canterbury Cantata Trust staged a celebratory event at Colyer Fergusson Hall, University of Kent, on the afternoon of Saturday 21 January. The singing groups involved were Canterbury Cantata, Amici Chorus, Monday Music and two Sing to Beat Parkinson’s groups – Canterbury and Pimlico Skylarks, the latter having made the long journey from London. The afternoon’s programme was conceived and masterminded by Trust founder and artistic director, Grenville Hancox MBE. Musical accompaniment was provided by pianists Christopher Gower, composer and retired cathedral organist, and Amelia-Rose Hamilton, one of three recipients of the 2016 Lord Mayor of Canterbury’s Award for her musical services to the local community, plus Phil Self on guitar and Aidan Shepherd on accordion. Grenville Hancox also provided guitar accompaniment.
Cantata and the Amici Chorus performed their own set pieces before joining Monday Music and the two Skylarks groups to sing some of the songs from their extensive repertoires. Cantata sang Lux Aurumque by acclaimed American composer Eric Whitacre and the World Premiere of Kings and Shepherds by Christopher Gower with a sensitive oboe accompaniment. For Lux Aurumque the singers were spaced around to great effect. The singing was hauntingly beautiful and profoundly moving. Amici gave a breathtaking performance of J S Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Part 1.
Nicola Wydenbach, professional singer and leader of Pimlico Skylarks, taught everyone Throw, Catch, a simple song with actions that tested coordination and manual dexterity. The combined groups also sang in unison Together with Friends, You Are Lovely People (to the tune of Michael Praetorious’ Jubilate Deo), Hearken All The Time Is Near, Ghanaian song of welcome Senwa Da Dende and Spike Milligan’s String is a Very Important Thing. As a finale, and to demonstrate how singing can strengthen the voice and reduce vocal impediment, Canterbury Skylarks members Tony Lord and John Rose sang Let it Be Me and Unchained Melody to rapturous applause, accompanied on piano by Christopher Gower and supported by singing teacher Sylvia Gower. The guests of Honour were the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr George Metcalfe and the Lady Mayoress.
In his closing remarks, Grenville said that singing together was an expression of caring for one another. The singers demonstrated this by singing together and to the audience, who were frequently invited to join in the singing. The audience in turn demonstrated that they cared by coming along to listen and to take part.
Canterbury Cantata Trust believes that anyone who wishes to sing with other people should be able to do so, regardless of experience, and without any financial barrier. Based on the belief that singing is good for you, and following over a decade of collaborative research, the Trust acts as an umbrella organisation to make opportunities for caring through singing. We sing for pleasure, for health, for friendship and the enjoyment of others. Anyone wishing to support Canterbury Cantata Trust by becoming a Friend from just £30 a year or a Donor should email firstname.lastname@example.org